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Amazon, Eucalyptus team on cloud compatibility

Not exactly 'private EC2', but close

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Amazon has made it pretty clear that it does not believe in private clouds – except its own, on which it sells outsiders capacity through its Amazon Web Services. But if companies want private clouds, it has to do something. And that something is to give the nod to Eucalyptus Systems, a maker of a private cloud stack that clones Amazon's EC2, through a partnership agreement.

Neither AWS nor Eucalyptus Systems, the commercial entity behind the open-core Eucalyptus cloud fabric, gave out much details about the nature of the partnership.

Don't get too excited about an alliance between the two companies where they would cross-sell each other's products and services, though. A spokesperson for Eucalyptus told El Reg that the agreement that AWS and Eucalyptus have inked has no such provisions. Rather, the partnership is about making it easier for customers to migrate back and forth between their existing data centers and the EC2 private cloud and its S3 storage service, among other services that AWS offers.

The financial terms of the partnership between the two were not disclosed, and it would be all too easy to be cavalier and guess that Eucalyptus has to shell out some cash to AWS to get its help with ensuring that its management APIs mesh with the ones used by the Eucalyptus fabric.

But it could turn out that with IT suppliers and their end-user companies getting increasingly behind the open source OpenStack cloud fabric that was started by NASA and Rackspace Hosting in July 2010, Amazon needs allies cloning its services on private clouds if it hopes to continue to grow its public cloud business as more and more OpenStack public clouds come to market. Seeing as though AWS and Eucalyptus need each other, it would also be reasonable to guess that no money changed hands at all.

"Enterprises can now take advantage of a common set of APIs that work with both AWS and Eucalyptus, enabling the use of scripts and other management tools across both platforms without the need to rewrite or maintain environment-specific versions," said Terry Wise, director of partner ecosystem for AWS, in a statement. "Additionally, customers can leverage their existing skills and knowledge of the AWS platform by using the same, familiar AWS SDKs and command line tools in their existing data centers."

In that same statement, Marten Mickos, CEO at Eucalyptus, said the partnership would accelerate the company's roadmap and maintain compatibility as both companies continue to tweak their cloudy wares.

Mickos did not elaborate further, but the Eucalyptus spokesperson did confirm to El Reg that the agreement doesn't involve AWS sharing of code or intellectual property outside of the AWS APIs themselves. The idea is to keep Eucalyptus in the API loop so it can maintain compatibility, and vice versa.

What Amazon could do, of course, is simply sell chunks of its EC2 and S3 clouds as turnkey systems that drop into corporate data centers, but which are managed by Amazon just like the "real" EC2 and S3 services are. But Amazon's CTO, Werner Vogels, has been adamant that the company doesn't want to do this because it defeats the whole premise of utility-style cloud computing – and trying to sell every bloody clock cycle in the data center.

Amazon would rather hard-sell virtual private clouds and extend out from a data center than extend its own infrastructure into its customers' premises.

In principle, the interoperability agreement between Amazon and Eucalyptus resembles the ones that Microsoft inked many years ago with SUSE Linux (when it was part of Novell) and Red Hat to ensure interoperability between Windows and Linux.

In those cases, there was also a tacit agreement between the parties not to sue each other over the code and techniques they use to ensure interoperability. There may be similar provisions in the agreement inked between Eucalyptus Systems and Amazon – and if not, there should be. The last thing that corporate AWS users want is to be served up a lawsuit because they are using Eucalyptus internally.

If you think that couldn't happen, just remember how SCO/Caldera went after its Linux partners and then former Unix partner IBM. ®

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